My attention has been drawn to a private recording of Eugene Antwi, a contestant for the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) parliamentary slot in the Subin constituency, Ashanti Region. On the tape, Eugene asserts that his opponent and incumbent member of parliament, Hon. Isaac Osei, is an imbecile. Eugene posits that Hon. Osei’s “Fante blood” or derivation accounts for his imbecility.
It is safely inferable that Eugene subscribes to an absurd view that Fantes have a genetic predisposition to imbecility. Honestly, I was not surprised by Eugene’s ethnocentric and condescending comments for historical reasons.
First, around the 1950s, antecedents of Eugene’s NPP in the National Liberation Movement (NLM) led by Baffour Akoto initiated violence against Fantes in Kumasi for their suspected support of perceived Fante, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. This is a matter of historical record and I am ready for a debate on this issue.
Dr. Tony Aidoo, Ghana’s ambassador to the Netherlands has recounted on numerous occasions how he witnessed the attack and murder of an innocent Fante bread-seller in Kumasi by Baffour Osei Akoto and his NLM goons. Strands of oral tradition heard by the author lend further support to Dr. Tony Aidoo’s experience. Indeed, at a point, NLM elements publicly banned Osagyefo from entering Kumasi.
I must stress that NLM elements and not necessarily Ashantis carried out those heinous anti-Fante acts. Apart from a few pre- and post-colonial incursions motivated by resource control and not ethnicity, Ashantis and Fantes have been on fantastic terms.
It is worthy of note that preponderantly Fante intelligentsia such as the late Dr. R. P. Baffour laid the foundations of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi. Indeed, a Fante, Nana Paul Sagoe, constructed the first Kumasi Improved Ventilation Pit (KVIP). Today, there is a sizeable Fante population in Kumasi with notable settlements such as Fante New Town. Moreover, until recently, one of the major streets in Kumasi, Nana Paul Sagoe Lane, was named after a Fante. It is unfortunate that Nana Paul Sagoe lane has recently been renamed.
A second factor that explains my previous indifference towards Eugene’s remark is recent supercilious comments by leading members of the NPP including Nana Akufo-Addo, Nana Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, and Jake Obetsebi Lamptey.
Notably, P. C. Appiah Ofori (on Osabarima Kwesi Atta II, Oguaamanhen), and Kennedy Agyepong [‘You are ingrates, keep your votes’ (election 2008)] have recently made scathing and condescending comments against Fantes and our leaders.
Given the history delineated above, I decided to ignore Eugene’s comments. I shrugged them off as merely consistent with the utterances of the above-mentioned elements of the NPP. I had decided not to be surprised by any more similar comments from this camp. Nonetheless, I was satisfied with the Fante traditional rulers’ condemnation of Eugene’s miserable remarks and decided to let go.
I have however been compelled to respond to Eugene. My response emanates from a lugubrious apology he has issued. In this ‘apology of an apology’, Eugene makes even more scandalous and pedestrian assertions.
First, he states that: “I accept that it was improper for me to make a comment with any reference whatsoever to TRADITIONAL STEREOTYPES in Ghana.” Is there any “traditional stereotype” that indicates that Fantes are imbeciles or are genetically predisposed towards idiocy? If any, it is a false and unfortunate stereotype and it is very surprising that an aspirant for legislative office in Ghana holds such a backward view. In my opinion, the above comment by Eugene makes his apology worse than the former comment.
In furtherance of his cheap attempt at saving face, Eugene argues again that: “It is also worth noting that the mother of my three beautiful daughters, Sarah Ahinful-Antwi, is a 100% Fante, who hails from Anomabu and Gomoa Dawurampong, both in the Central Region. I would not deliberately do anything to cast aspersions on her good self and others from where she hails.”
Eugene’s above point about his wife's Fante origin inoculating him from negativity and pessimism towards Fantes is exceedingly pedestrian. Biblically, Samson's wife (Delilah) was a Philistine. How many Philistines did Samson kill? From a Freudian or psychoanalytic perspective, I conjecture that Eugene has in the past cast similar aspersions on his wife or perhaps his kids.
Bottom line, Eugene Antwi’s comments and the accompanying apology are preposterous and reprehensible and all well meaning Ghanaians must rise and condemn him. I am a bona fide Ghanaian of Fante origin and I reject Eugene’s inoperable remarks and apology.
Dominic Kweku Sagoe
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